The Hacker: I'm lowest of low but bottle of Scotch means glass is half full

By Peter Corrigan

You may wonder why, after the most calamitous round of my golfing life, I was crowned last weekend as Top Centurion and presented with a prize of a bottle of Scotch and a dozen balls. Actually, Top Centurion doesn't sound a bad title to carry through the winter. Shame that it also carries the ignominy of being the lowest of the low, worst of the worst.

As a consolation for our sufferings, all those at our club who have failed to break 100 in a medal at least once in the year are invited to play in the Centurions competition.

It sounds like a celebration of failure, but it is much more than that. It is the final chance to make amends in the company of those who have shared your disappointment.

Over 150 qualified, which was a surprising 60 per cent of the total medal entrants, and not everyone was happy at being identified as a ton-up boy. Indeed, some objected to the list of qualifiers being pinned to the noticeboard. So to protect their feelings, it wasn't.

However, 57 who had the courage to face up to their shortcomings turned up to contest the least coveted tournament of the year.

When the Centurions began eight or nine years ago, it was mooted that we should give additional prizes, such as shortest drive and furthest away from the pin, but we stuck to two main awards: the best and the worst cards.

Leon, a 10-handicapper, won the event with a net 70 after a countback. There was no need for a countback at the other end of the scale. My wretched 122 was 11 shots adrift of the next contender who, when he heard there had been a bottle of Scotch on offer, cursed that he didn'tplay worse.

He would have had a job. I committed every boob in the book. My playing companions, Howard and Geoff, watched with bemused embarrassment as I produced a performance which, even with my history of horrors, I can't explain.

I won't bore you with the details, but it was a catalogue of mishaps and misadventures more reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film than the account of a golf round.

After they had finished mocking my score, some reckoned I bring pressure on myself by continually writing about my attempts to break 100. And I have to agree that it has become such a psychological barrier that it attacks my central nervous system. I'm beaten before I start.

It is even affecting my fellow members who never used to worry about breaking 100 before the Centurions competition was introduced. Now they claim the fear of it is affecting their game. But I will not shrink from mental fight. I must achieve this breakthrough, because I believe the duty of every golfer is to improve. As in life, it is not enough to accept the frailties that God in His wisdom has visited upon us. We must conquer our deficiencies.

I know that fellow hackers take succour from knowing they are not alone in their struggles. But we must offer more than mere comfort, and I shall spend the winter searching for a way out ofour predicament.

I shall leave no stone unturned, especially if my ball is underneath it.

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